Speech-Sound Discrimination in School-Age Children Psychophysical and Neurophysiologic Measures Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 1999
Speech-Sound Discrimination in School-Age Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Nina Kraus
    Communication Sciences and Disorders Neurobiology and Physiology, Otolaryngology Northwestern University Evanston, IL
  • Dawn Burton Koch
    Communication Sciences and Disorders Neurobiology and Physiology, Otolaryngology Northwestern University Evanston, IL
  • Therese J. McGee
    Communication Sciences and Disorders Neurobiology and Physiology, Otolaryngology Northwestern University Evanston, IL
  • Trent G. Nicol
    Communication Sciences and Disorders Neurobiology and Physiology, Otolaryngology Northwestern University Evanston, IL
  • Jenna Cunningham
    Communication Sciences and Disorders Neurobiology and Physiology, Otolaryngology Northwestern University Evanston, IL
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: nkraus@nwu.edu
Article Information
Special Populations / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 1999
Speech-Sound Discrimination in School-Age Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1999, Vol. 42, 1042-1060. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4205.1042
History: Received November 17, 1998 , Accepted March 29, 1999
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1999, Vol. 42, 1042-1060. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4205.1042
History: Received November 17, 1998; Accepted March 29, 1999

This study measured behavioral speech-sound discrimination and a neurophysiologic correlate of discrimination in normal school-age children (ages 6 to 15) to determine if developmental effects exist. Just noticeable differences (JNDs) and mismatch responses (MMNs) were assessed for synthetic syllables that differed in third-formant onset frequency (/da-ga/) and formant transition duration (/ba-wa/). These stimuli were selected because children with learning problems often find it difficult to discriminate rapid spectrotemporal changes like /da-ga/, whereas the ability to distinguish /ba-wa/ is relatively unimpaired. Results indicate that JNDs for /da-ga/ show no developmental effects and that JNDs for /ba-wa/ decrease slightly with age (although likely for task-related reasons). MMNs elicited by two /da-ga/ stimulus pairs (onset frequency differences=20 Hz, 280 Hz) and three /ba-wa/ stimulus pairs (transition duration differences=3, 5, 15 ms) showed no systematic or significant differences for onset latency, duration, or area as a function of age. Normative JND and MMN data are provided. These norms provide a metric against which children with suspected central auditory processing difficulties or auditory-based language disorders can be compared.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by NIH NIDCD DC01510 and Foundation for Hearing and Speech Rehabilitation. The scientific contributions of Thomas D. Carrell, PhD, Steven Zecker, PhD, and Kelly Tremblay, PhD, are gratefully acknowledged.
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